For Russian gas, Eni will open two accounts: one in euros and one in rubles

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Eni’s selection of a cautious streak on the payment front for Russian gas supplies comes just days before new gas payment deadlines in Moscow, and follows the opening, formally announced by the European Union over the weekend and reconfirmed on Monday, of Europe’s potential. Companies to proceed in accordance with the requests of the Kremlin without violating sanctions. In practice, the ban on payment of supplies in rubles still remains. But companies, once the amount is paid in euros or dollars, will be able through a public declaration to consider their contractual obligations with Moscow respectable. At this point, the subsequent conversion into rubles will be considered by the European Union as an “internal” move, in which only Russia will participate. Which Brussels would consider itself alien to.

Timmermans, gas in rubles violates sanctions, good accounts in euros

“Paying gas in rubles is a violation of sanctions, we have made this clear in recent days. We have given an explanation of how companies and member states operate. Opening bank accounts in euros is not a violation, but it can be used to get around sanctions. We need to make sure that we don’t get around the sanctions. And we have issued instructions to states and companies. I hope that companies can operate without problems,” confirmed Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the European Green Deal, in a recent interview with Radio 24.

Complex ribos were born at the beginning of the invasion

The mystery of how to pay for Russian gas supplies in currency was born on March 31, when the Kremlin issued a decree obligating European companies to open two accounts for the purchase of gas: one in euros and one in rubles. The implementation of the agreements is linked to the condition of converting the payment into the Russian national currency. However, the decree did not specify the timing of the currency exchange and directly included the Russian Central Bank, which is affected by Western sanctions. All elements that, according to EU experts, led to the avoidance of restrictive measures.

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A compromise that is beneficial to both parties

Therefore, Brussels specified that payments can be made exclusively in euros or dollars, without ever referring to the ruble. An approach that was not enough for many member states: many, including Italy, demanded more clarity. The first opening came at the end of last week directly from Gazprom, which confirmed, in a letter sent to customers, that payments can be made in euros and announced that the Central Bank of Russia does not participate in currency exchange, thus excluding the direct role of the central center. The institute is under sanctions. A compromise that Brussels jumped into. On Friday, May 13 at the Berlamont building, the Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy, Ditty Jules-Juergens, summoned representatives of EU countries to explain the updated guidance published on April 21.

Exit from “permit” after payment

The exit strategy actually takes the form of an announcement that European companies, when paying in euros, are required to publish it which exhausts their obligations to Moscow. However, again, the EU executive does not say whether companies can also open a second ruble account at GazpromBank. Prime Minister Mario Draghi also highlighted a gray area, noting last Thursday in Washington that there is no formal EU ban on ruble payments, and that many, including Berlin, have already done so. The controversy, however, divides twenty-seven. Italy, Germany, France and Hungary intend to continue on this path, also because – as European diplomatic sources make clear – GazpromBank is not among the institutions subject to sanctions by the European Union. But there are those – like Poland, the Baltic states and the Netherlands – who oppose discretion and demand stricter rules, appealing to the repeated clear statements of the European Union Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen: “Paying in rubles violates sanctions.”

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Harold Manning

"Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover."

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